Kraken is a major cryptocurrency exchange that makes it easy to buy, sell, and exchange a long list of dozens of different cryptocurrencies including market leaders Bitcoin and Ethereum. In addition to buying and selling crypto at market rates, Kraken offers users margin accounts and futures trading, riskier products useful for some trading strategies.
The easiest place for new crypto investors to start in the Kraken ecosystem is the main Kraken platform. More experienced traders, even outside of cryptocurrency, may prefer the lower-cost active trading platform Kraken Pro.
- More than 50 altcoins supported: Kraken supports popular currencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Cardano, Solana, Dogecoin, and Stellar Lumens.
- Simple user interface: Kraken is relatively easy to use even if you don’t have crypto experience.
- High liquidity exchange: Kraken is an active exchange where it’s easy to buy and sell at market rates.
- Higher fees when not using Kraken Pro: The main Kraken platform charges higher transaction fees than Kraken Pro.
- Not as many altcoins as some competitors: While it has many coins available, Kraken leaves many unavailable.
- Some users report losses due to hacks: Some users report a history of costly hacks with little to no support from Kraken.
Kraken is a crypto exchange founded in 2011 in San Francisco with offices around the world.1 It supports customers in 185 countries including the United States. Kraken supports individual and institutional investors with competitively priced cryptocurrency trading.
Beginners will do best with the main Kraken platform, while advanced and expert crypto enthusiasts may prefer Kraken Pro and the advanced margin and futures features. Beginners should also click on the earn tab, where you can deposit your crypto balance to earn interest.2 The combination of platforms and services makes it likely that Kraken can handle your cryptocurrency needs.
Cryptocurrencies Available on Kraken
Kraken supports 87 cryptocurrencies, including popular ones such as:
- Bitcoin (BTC)
- Ethereum (ETH)
- Cardano (ADA)
- Dogecoin (DOGE)
- Litecoin (LTC)
- Polkadot (DOT)
- Polygon (MATIC)
- Ripple (XRP)
- Stellar Lumens (XLM)
- Solana (SOL)
- Sushi (SUSHI)
- Uniswap (UNI)
Kraken also supports a handful of stablecoins including Tether, USD Coin, and Dai. You can even convert US dollars into Canadian dollars, Japanese yen, and Swiss francs if you want. Note that not all currencies are available in every country.
Kraken offers two trading platforms to users, Kraken and Kraken Pro. Kraken Pro offers lower pricing and is available to anyone with a Kraken account.
Depending on your cryptocurrency and active market trading experience, you may prefer Kraken or Kraken Pro. In either case, there’s a platform suitable for anyone from beginners to experts.
Beginners are best off starting with the central Kraken platform. With a verified account, you can quickly buy cryptocurrency from a linked bank account, and it’s just as easy to sell or convert between currencies in your account.
Once your account is created and you’ve logged in, it only takes a few seconds to enter an order using a straightforward form.
Using this system, you’re able to buy crypto directly using your bank account balance. You don’t have to fund your account first.
In addition to buying and selling, you’re able to deposit your crypto for staking and earn up to 20% interest, depending on the currency.
To keep your account safe, be sure to enable two-factor authentication (2FA), which prevents anyone from logging into your account without your device and a randomly generated code in hand.
Kraken Pro is an active trading platform that works through your web browser or smartphone. While the interface may be intimidating to crypto and trading newbies, it could be worth learning. It includes more detailed asset information including active charts and a view into open orders.
Anyone with an active Kraken account can use Kraken Pro. Possibly more important than the advanced interface is lower fees. If you make the same trade with Kraken Pro instead of Kraken, you’ll pay less than using the main interface.
Pricing and fees vary depending on the platform you’re using and the trade you’re entering. In either case, prices are also subject to spread fees. Here’s a glance at the most important fees to be aware of:
For instant purchases, the fee is 1.5% for most cryptocurrencies and 0.9% for stablecoins using U.S. dollars or another stablecoin.
Additional fees depend on how you fund the purchase. Prices range from 0.5% for funding with a bank account to over 3.75% with a debit card, credit card, or digital wallet.5
Kraken Pro Pricing
Kraken Pro offers much lower pricing than the main Kraken platform. Pricing is based on your total trading volume over the last 30 days. Most trades are subject to either a 0.26% taker fee or 0.16% maker fee.5
|30- Day Volume (USD)||Maker||Taker|
|$0 – $50,000||0.16%||0.26%|
|$50,001 – $100,000||0.14%||0.24%|
|$100,001 – $250,000||0.12%||0.22%|
|$250,001 – $500,000||0.10%||0.20%|
|$500,001 – $1,000,000||0.08%||0.18%|
|$1,000,001 – $2,500,000||0.06%||0.16%|
|$2,500,001 – $5,000,000||0.04%||0.14%|
|$5,000,001 – $10,000,000||0.02%||0.12%|
Maker orders are trades that are not instantly matched against existing orders, which add liquidity to the platform. Taker fees are charged to orders that match against an outstanding order from another user on the market and require a slightly higher fee.6
Your Kraken account should be safe from cybercriminals looking to drain your balances if you follow good online security practices. Once an account is funded, it’s extremely wise to add two-factor authentication. You can create different two-factor codes for sign-in, account withdrawals, and trades. There’s also a feature to lock your account from any changes if you’re concerned that your account was breached.
While most users have a positive experience, some users report hacked accounts where the owner lost everything with no options to recover lost assets.7 As cryptocurrency blockchain transactions can’t be reversed, crypto accounts are a common target for fraud.8 Beware of these risks when using Kraken or any other exchange.
Cryptocurrency transactions can’t be reversed. Make sure to keep your account information secure and double-check addresses before sending funds to another cryptocurrency wallet.
Opening a Kraken Account
Signing up with Kraken is similar to signing up for a stock brokerage or another cryptocurrency exchange. If you have all of your information handy, it can take less than five minutes to get your account up and running.
When signing up, you’ll need to provide contact information including your name, address, phone number, and Social Security number. This information is part of what’s known as know your customer (KYC) requirements in the financial industry.
To verify your account and access all trading features, you’ll need to provide additional information, including uploading a copy of a government photo ID and a picture of you holding that ID. Without adding this information, you’re stuck with limited account functionality.
Kraken support is available via live chat or email. We had a minor issue changing an account setting (mostly due to user error) and sent in a support ticket. Kraken staff responded and resolved the problem in about 20 minutes.
While we had a great experience with customer service, not all users report the same outcomes. Some unhappy customers report trouble with funds due to hacking and trouble getting Kraken to release held funds.
Kraken earns just two out of five stars on Trustpilot, indicating many users have experienced significant problems. The most common complaints focused on long waits for customer support responses and holding funds beyond the initial security period.98
These customer service complaints are concerning, but it’s important to take both positive and negative reviews into account when choosing a cryptocurrency exchange.
Account management is mostly self-service and handled through the Kraken website and mobile apps. If you have a laptop or desktop computer, you may find the large screen makes managing your account easier.
In the Kraken dashboard, you can update settings, manage your approval level, add 2FA, manage API keys, and lock down your account.
How Kraken Compares to Other Cryptocurrency Companies
Kraken offers features beyond the typical industry competitor and slightly lower pricing than its most prominent rivals. Consider these differences between Kraken and Coinbase, another popular crypto exchange:
Kraken vs. Coinbase
- Coinbase and Kraken both operate their centralized exchanges where users buy and sell from each other.
- Kraken supports 87 cryptocurrencies for spot trading. Coinbase supports 76 currencies.
- Both feature the ability to earn through staking your cryptocurrency at varying interest rates. Kraken pays higher rates and allows users to stake with a larger number of coins.
- Coinbase supports spot currency markets only, while Kraken also supports cryptocurrency futures.
- Kraken trading fees are lower than Coinbase trading fees for most cryptocurrency trades. Both earn additional fees through a spread between buying and selling prices.10
Kraken’s pricing and features make it a good choice for beginner to expert cryptocurrency traders and investors looking for a new cryptocurrency exchange. Its low fees on Kraken Pro, high rates for staking, and futures markets are all a draw. However, some users report serious account security issues, and it’s not the easiest platform to navigate compared to competitors.
Overall, Kraken is a good choice for cryptocurrency trading and investing. Make sure you understand all costs and risks involved and take steps to secure your account with two-factor authentication. If you do, you should have a positive experience buying and selling cryptocurrency Kraken.